Today (21 March), the German Cabinet presented its annual report on global efforts towards disarmament and arms control. According to the report, there is a dangerous trend to increased rearmament. Since last year, there has been a string of alarming headlines. North Korea is striving to acquire nuclear weapons, even at the risk of dangerous escalation. The Syrian regime has broken a taboo by conducting poison gas attacks. Russia recently presented to the world an array of newly developed weapons, with which it intends to massively extend the range of its nuclear arms.
Maas warns about a new arms race
“The security environment has changed dramatically,” said Foreign Minister Maas. He went on to say that “Russia is calling into question the arms control architecture that was built after the Cold War. In Europe, we’re facing the danger of a new arms race.” The issue of disarmament and arms control must be put back at the very top of the agenda, the Foreign Minister concluded.
The Federal Foreign Office is therefore campaigning strongly in international bodies for disarmament, and it is working hard around the world to maintain the system of treaties and agreements that has been painstakingly built since the end of the Cold War. This is necessary because there is the danger that diplomatic achievements such as the Treaty on the Non‑Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons and the so‑called INF Treaty, through which an entire category of weapons was eliminated, could be undermined by ever more frequent violations. At the same time, Germany is trying to launch new initiatives, for example by assisting in the preparation of international negotiations on a treaty that would prohibit the production of fissile material for weapons purposes.
Maintaining the successful Iran deal
As part of a collective E3+3 effort, the Federal Foreign Office is working to maintain the Iran nuclear deal. The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action is an example of how a committed diplomatic effort can achieve tangible success in the fight against nuclear weapons. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has repeatedly confirmed in its inspection reports that Iran is abiding by its commitments under the deal, and that it has scaled back its nuclear programme, as agreed.
The Federal Foreign Office is also working to address potential future threats that could arise from new weapons systems. For instance, Germany has taken the initiative, at the United Nations, to establish an international Group of Governmental Experts on Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems (LAWS).